• Word of the day
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    Sunday, June 03, 2018

    doss

    verb [dos]
    Chiefly British. to sleep or lie down in any convenient place.
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    What is the origin of doss?

    The origin of the English verb doss is obscure. It is most likely derived from the Latin noun dossum, a variant of dorsum “the back (of the body),” a noun of unclear origin. The verb endorse comes from Medieval Latin indorsāre “to write on or sign the back of a document”; the adjective dorsal “having a back or located on the back” is most likely familiar as an anatomical term, especially referring to the fin of a shark or a dolphin. Doss entered English in the late 18th century.

    How is doss used?

    ... he was too old to doss on furniture night after night. Coleen Nolan, Envy, 2010

    I didn't want a place to doss down. Jonathan Gash, The Gondola Scam, 1984

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  • Word of the day
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    Saturday, June 02, 2018

    brontide

    noun [bron-tahyd]
    a rumbling noise heard occasionally in some parts of the world, probably caused by seismic activity.
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    What is the origin of brontide?

    Brontide is an uncommon word, probably formed from the Greek noun brontḗ “thunder” and the suffix -ide, a variant of -id (“offspring of”) occurring originally in loanwords from Greek, and productive in English especially in names of dynasties (e.g., Attalid) and in names of periodic meteor showers, with the base noun usually denoting the constellation in which the shower appears (e.g., Perseid). Brontḗ appears in brontosaurus “thunder lizard” and is from the same Proto-Indo-European root bhrem- (with a variant brem-) “to growl” as Latin fremitus “dull roar,” Old High German breman and Old English bremman, both meaning “to roar,” and Slavic (Polish) brzmieć “to make a sound.” Brontide entered English about 2000.

    How is brontide used?

    “What's a brontide?” she said, keeping him from bolting. ... "They're like thunder on a clear day. They're like the unexplained sounds of artillery when there's no battle." Gary Fincke, "Faculty X," Emergency Calls, 1996

    ... he urges that brontides predominate in countries which are subject to earthquakes, that they are often heard as heralds of earthquakes, and are specifically frequent during seismic series, and that brontides are sometimes accompanied by very feeble tremors. Charles Davison, A Manual of Seismology, 1921

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  • Word of the day
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    Friday, June 01, 2018

    concupiscent

    adjective [kon-kyoo-pi-suhnt, kong-]
    lustful or sensual.
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    What is the origin of concupiscent?

    Not many Latin words are as easy to break down into their component parts as concupiscent is. The first element is a variant of the preposition and prefix cum “with,” here used as an intensive prefix (“thoroughly”). The second element is the Latin root cup- “desire.” The third, -isc, is the inceptive (also called inchoative) suffix (“beginning to …”). The final element is -ent, the inflectional stem of the present participle; concupiscent literally means “beginning to strongly desire” or simply "desirous." Concupiscent entered English in the 14th century.

    How is concupiscent used?

    He looks at Faust’s romance with Gretchen (Camilla Horn) with an agonized tenderness, and at Mephisto’s courtship of the concupiscent Marthe (Yvette Guilbert) with rib-shaking ribaldry. Richard Brody, "What to Stream This Weekend," The New Yorker, February 24, 2018

    He'd have bet his Porsche, from that one look, that she had summed him up as one more concupiscent old guy, easily manipulated. Edward Falco, Wolf Point, 2005

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  • Word of the day
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    Thursday, May 31, 2018

    palpebral

    adjective [pal-puh-bruhl, pal-pee-bruhl, -peb-ruhl]
    of or relating to the eyelids.
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    What is the origin of palpebral?

    The Latin noun palpebra (also palpebrum) “eyelid” is composed of the verb palpāre “to touch, stroke, caress” and -brum, a suffix forming nouns of instruments, e.g., candēlābrum “a stand for holding several candles, candelabra.” Palpāre derives from a complicated Proto-Indo-European root pāl- (from peǝl-) and its many variants, e.g., pel-, pelǝ-, plē-, etc. “to touch, feel, flutter, float.” A palpebra is “something that flutters (quickly).” The root is also the source of Latin palpitāre “(of a pulse) to beat, pulsate,” pāpiliō “butterfly, moth,” and Old English fēlan “to examine by touch,” English feel. Palpebral entered English in the mid-18th century.

    How is palpebral used?

    adrift on a gold-brown leather recliner, / the little finger of her left hand tapping / on the crocheted antimacassar, / palpebral twitches of chronic hypnagogia. Rodney Jones, "Requiem for Reba Portis," Village Prodigies, 2017

    In his palpebral vision, she beckoned. Richard Fariña, Been Down So Long It Looks Like Up to Me, 1966

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  • Word of the day
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    Wednesday, May 30, 2018

    mump

    verb [muhmp, moomp]
    to sulk; mope.
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    What is the origin of mump?

    The rare English verb mump is akin to the equally rare Dutch mompen “to mumble, grumble,” and the magnificent German verbs mumpfen “to chew with one’s mouth full” and mimpfeln “to mumble while eating.” The Germanic verbs most likely derive from a Proto-Indo-European root meuǝ- “be silent,” from which English also derives mum “silent,” Latin mūtus “silent, mute,” and Greek mustḗrion “secret rite, mystery,” a derivative of mústēs “an initiate,” a derivative of mueîn “to initiate, instruct, teach,” itself a derivative of múein “to close the eyes, mouth, or other opening” (lest one reveal what is not to be revealed). Mump entered English in the 16th century.

    How is mump used?

    Up, Dullard! It is better service to enjoy a novel than to mump. Robert Louis Stevenson, "Letter to his Mother, December 30, 1883" Selected Letters of Robert Louis Stevenson, 1997

    Come, my dear fellow, do not spoil the excellent impression you have already made. I am sure to mump and moan is not in you ... John Collis Snaith, The Wayfarers, 1902

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  • Word of the day
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    Tuesday, May 29, 2018

    excogitate

    verb [eks-koj-i-teyt]
    to think out; devise; invent.
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    What is the origin of excogitate?

    Excogitate comes from Latin excōgitātus, the past participle of excōgitāre meaning “to devise, invent, think out.” It entered English in the 1520s.

    How is excogitate used?

    I wouldn't put the question to you for the world, and expose you to the inconvenience of having to ... excogitate an answer. Henry James, Washington Square, 1880

    The average politician knows fully as little or as much about railway management as he does about photographing the moon or applying the solar spectrum; yet, once upon a board of railway commissioners, he is required to excogitate and frame rules for an industry which not only supplies the financial arteries of a continent, but holds the lives as well as the credits of its citizens dependent upon the click of a telegraph or the angle of a semaphore ... Appleton Morgan, "The Political Control of Railways: Is It Confiscation?" Popular Science Monthly, February 1889

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  • Word of the day
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    Monday, May 28, 2018

    estimable

    adjective [es-tuh-muh-buhl]
    deserving respect or admiration; worthy of esteem.
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    What is the origin of estimable?

    The English adjective estimable comes via French estimable from Latin aestimābilis, a derivative of aestimāre “to value, price, estimate the money value of.” The etymology of aestimāre is unclear, but it may be related to Latin aes (stem aer-) “copper, bronze, brass,” from Proto-Indo-European ayes-, ayos- “metal, copper,” from which Sanskrit derives áyas- “metal, iron,” Gothic aiz “bronze,” German Erz “ore” (the Erzgebirge, “Ore Mountain Range,” lies between Saxony, Germany, and Bohemia, Czech Republic), Old English ār “ore, copper, brass,” and English ore. Estimable entered English in the 15th century.

    How is estimable used?

    He is the most estimable, the most trustworthy creature in the world, and I will venture to say, there is not a better seaman in all the merchant service. Alexandre Dumas, The Count of Monte Cristo, translated by Adolphe Cohn, 1922

    Nothing is more typical of Armstrong, or more estimable, than his decision not to go into politics; heaven knows what the blandishments, or the invitations, must have been. Anthony Lane, "The Man and the Moon," The New Yorker, August 26, 2012

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